Xena and Gabrielle bring Callisto to Justice
|Series||Xena: Warrior Princess|
|In-Universe Date||Year 1|
|Filming Dates||6 February to 16 February 1996|
|Original Air-Date||13 May 1996|
|Written By||R.J. Stewart|
|Directed By||T.J. Scott|
|Order in Series||22 of 124|
|Order in Season||22 of 24|
|Order in Franchise||63 of 304|
|Previous Episode in Series||"The Greater Good"|
|Next Episode in Series||"Death Mask"|
|Previous Episode in Franchise||"Centaur Mentor Journey"|
|Next Episode in Franchise||"Death Mask"|
"Now, I'm a painful reminder of what you
used to be, and how you may never leave it behind.
Ooh, that crowd wants my blood. Why not let them
have me? It's the easy way out. Nobody will blame you."
When a village is attacked and ransacked by a malicious female warrior and her army, who impersonates Xena. Xena investigates who is attacking in her name, and is once again reminded of the sins of her past when the malicious female warrior who she discovers is named Callisto, whose family was killed by Xena's former army, seeks revenge on the Warrior Princess. Later discovering that Callisto plans to kill the Delphi oracle and frame Xena.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Background Information
- 3 From the Original Script and Cut Material
- 4 Links and References
- 5 Season Navigation
A village is being systematically destroyed by Callisto, a ruthless woman warrior leading a band of cutthroats on a bloody rampage, as a group of peasants try to take shelter. A small boy runs for his life as warriors chased after him. The boy slips and falls and looks up and see the warriors before he dies. An old woman is being ready to be killed, and Callisto orders her army to stop and to let her live. She tells Theadours to let the old crow live, and tells the terrified village survivor to spread the news of the devastation and identifies herself as Xena.
Meanwhile at a tavern, Xena slides her drink across the table to a grief-stricken young man named Melas; she thinks can use this drink more than her. As he thanks her and asks her name. Xena learns of the cruel charade that an impostor has done in her name, when Melas, who lost his six-year-old son to the murderers and vows revenge on the Warrior Princess. Determined to stop the destruction, Xena and Gabrielle set out to find the impostor. They sense this impostor was the one responsible for nearly killing Xena with a poison dart.
On the road, Xena and Gabrielle are heading towards Corinth, as they walk through a group of villagers, likely traveling from a village destroyed by Callisto, they meet Joxer. Joxer offers his services to Xena naming himself Joxer the Mighty, to which Xena refuses. Joxer continues to get Xena's approval, saying that his nickname is Bloody Joxer. Xena annoyed grabs his nose, and she and Gabrielle walk off. Joxer is left disappointed yelling out "I thought you'd recognize talent when you saw it!"
Later, Melas attacks Xena and she beats him, and ties him to a tree, and he promises to continue to hunt her down. Gabrielle hopes he'll find peace, and Melas tells her, he will once the evil heart has stopped beating.
After foiling the assassination attempt by Melas, Xena and Gabrielle come upon a village being attacked by Callisto's army, who are in the process of sacking another village. Xena rides in and starts fighting, Xena lets loose with her chakram and to her amazement, it is caught by Callisto.
Drawing their swords, the two charge each other on horseback and a fierce battle ensues which proves them to be almost evenly matched. Callisto mentions she just as good as Xena. Xena realizes that it was Callisto who shot her with that poison dart. Callisto reveals that it left her free to revive Xena's reputation as a wanted killer of women and children. Xena tells her she never killed women and children, to which Callisto says she has now.
The two begin to fight again, only this time with staffs. They knock each other off their horses, but Callisto manages to escape with Xena's chakram, asking the Warrior Princess before she flees if she remembers Cirra -- a village Xena conquered in her dark past. Xena is shocked as she clearly remembers. Callisto flips onto her horse and rides off, leaving Xena to help Gabrielle who is getting attacked by Theodorus.
After the fight, Xena puts her "touch" on the throat of Callisto's warrior Theodorus, forcing him to reveal Callisto's intentions. He tells her that Callisto's family died in Cirra when Xena and her army laid waste to the village and that the woman warrior is determined to exact her revenge. He also reveals that Callisto plans to murder the Oracle of Delphi the following day and blame it on Xena.
Meanwhile, Callisto is visited in her stronghold by Joxer, who is desperate to become one of her warriors. She tells him he must prove himself by bringing her Gabrielle. Callisto hopes he might hopefully capture Gabrielle for them, and tells Theodorus, that her plan is almost closer to being a success, and tomorrow, at Delphi, Xena's weapon will be found in the oracle's skull, as she throws the chakram, which into a watermelon.
At night, Xena, Gabrielle and Melas camp by a fire. Gabrielle asks Melas when was the last time he slept, he tells her when he buried his son. Melas reveals that he will be happy when Callisto is dead. Gabrielle walks away and joins Xena by the fire and asks Xena if she wants to talk about Cirra. Xena reveals the story of Cirra, that it was just another village to conquer, nothing out of the ordinary. A fire broke out and she didn't know if it was one of her men or just an accident. She goes further on to reveal that it was one time when her army was responsible for the death of women and children. Gabrielle says Callisto will do anything for revenge, which Xena doesn't blame her for.
Gabrielle then demands to know when will this end, the lust for revenge. Xena says she was lucky, but if something happened to Mother, or Hercules, or Gabrielle, she might do just the same. Gabrielle asks Xena to promise her if something happens to her, that Xena will not become a monster, that the only way to end hatred is through love and forgiveness. Xena laughs and so does Gabrielle, and she hugs Gabrielle.
The next day, Xena, Gabrielle, and Melas -- who now knows that Xena did not murder his son -- go to the temple at Delphi. Gabrielle tells them the Oracle should be arriving soon to give her prophecy, and Xena suggests they spread out and to give a yell if they see her. Xena spots and charges Callisto in the crowd just as she hurls Xena's chakram towards the Oracle. The Warrior Princess manages to thwart the assassination attempt and jumps on her horse to pursue the fleeing Callisto.
Xena gives chase over the hills and valleys. At one point she exploits a shortcut, gets an angle on Callisto and closes with her. Xena stands on Argo's back. As she closes with Callisto she leaps up, catches Callisto's upper torso between her legs and, with a vicious twist, slams Callisto to the ground. Xena stands over the fallen Callisto, she tries to get up, but Xena tells her no. Callisto screams as Xena is tying Callisto’s hands behind her back. Having finally managed to take Callisto prisoner she plans to return her to the village.
Meanwhile, Gabrielle is confronted by Joxer who unsuccessfully tries to capture her for Callisto. Gabrielle tries to reason with Joxer, but instead, he tries to grab her again to which Gabrielle hits him in the nose and leaves.
Xena leads the horses, with Callisto on Argo heading back to the village. The two begin to talk about rights and wrongs. Xena tells Callisto that what happened to her was terrible and it was her fault. Callisto spits on Xena's head and doesn't accept it. Gabrielle comes running and tells Xena that Melas has gone crazy and he is organizing a lynch mob. Callisto tells her she isn't afraid to die, and how will Xena feel to see her creation executed without a fair trial. Gabrielle begs Xena to not listen to her. Xena asks her what she would do if she let her go, to which Callisto laughs and tells her she would dedicate her life to killing everything Xena's loves.
Meanwhile, Melas, consumed with grief and hatred, has his lynch mob bent on revenge ready to go. When Xena and Gabrielle return with Callisto captive and Xena refuses to give her up to Melas and the crowd, she takes her to the jail. In the jail, Callisto starts taunting Xena asking her why she's fought her sense of guilt. Xena promises to not let anything happen to Callisto without a fair trial. Callisto laughs and tells Xena that as a villain, she is honored, but as a hero, she is a sentimental fool.
Gabrielle watches the mob when a noose is thrown over her neck. Joxer returns to capture Gabrielle for Callisto a second time. Gabrielle hits him and the two sit down and talk. She asks why he's trying to attack Gabrielle and Joxer tells her he wants to make a name for himself as a warrior. Gabrielle tells him he has no chance and after some talking the two appear to be getting along better. When Joxer and Gabrielle exchange names, he tries to attack her again. She hits him and walks off.
Melas and the crowd set fire to the jail. Callisto holds a chain and when Xena moves in to get her, Callisto hits her with it and runs out and locks the cell door. In the confusion, Callisto escapes and takes Gabrielle hostage on her horse.
Xena manages to escape the burning jail and finds Melas who tells her Callisto captured her. As mounts Argo, Melas can't forgive himself, and Xena reminds him that people like them should listen to people like Gabrielle.
Back at Callisto's stronghold, Gabrielle has been tied up and hung high above the ground, and Theodorus pushes Joxer forward, telling her he found him sneaking around again. Callisto tries to convince him to kill Gabrielle, and she shows him with her finger over her neck how to kill her. Joxer puts the dagger at Gabrielle's throat and this excites Callisto until he throws down the dagger. Angry, she tells her warriors to chain him up, and they take him away.
Xena finds where Callisto's stronghold is located, and when she reaches Callisto's stronghold, she finds Gabrielle suspended from a rope over a huge vat of wood. After igniting both the rope and the wood with a torch, Callisto draws Xena into battle and a furious fight-chase on ladders begins.
After many attempts on the ladders between them, Xena throws another ladder, which makes a triangle when it meets with the first one. She launches a third ladder that lands on top of the first two, making a seesaw. Xena flips onto it, bringing the ladder up to Gabrielle.
Eventually, Xena gets the upper hand and catches Gabrielle just as the rope gives way. She then saves Callisto from falling into the burning pyre, though the embittered warrior tells Xena that she hates her for doing so.
In the end, Callisto is put in leg irons by a posse of citizens from Delphi, and Melas -- now aware of the near-tragic consequences of his blind hatred -- promises that she will get a fair trial for her crimes. Gabrielle mentions to Xena that she's glad she saved Callisto, to which Xena remarks it was the right decision. As the two begin to leave, Callisto lets slip that the right thing to do isn't what they think in regards to sending her to prison.
Joxer's nose was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, his crossbow was severely damaged.
|"It was the first time I met Hudson and she was very, very shy. I'm thrilled she came to us, but it was a difficult get to know you period..but even though I wasn't sure at first If I liked this person, I really respected her acting ability. And when the camera rolled on during rehearsal, she was there for me every time...She has become a very valued member of the 'family and I love her."|
|― Lucy Lawless on meeting Hudson Leick
Source: Xena: Warrior Princess: The Official Guide to the Xenaverse book 1997 and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed
|"“This is my version of [the casting process]. I was going through a really hard time then, and I was in a bad mood, a foul mood, when I was auditioning. We were sitting in this cramped, tiny little office. I definitely get holier-than-thou sometimes. It’s true — it’s unfortunate and it’s ugly but it’s true. I didn’t like it. There [were] a whole bunch of actresses in there and I didn’t feel that we were respected enough, waiting in this little office. Everyone was talking really loud. We all had to go in and audition, and we needed to prepare but it wasn’t quiet. All the production people were talking and it was noisy. That’s annoying, when you’ve got to bring something in and try to center yourself in a roomful of other people. I remember really not liking that, sitting still and just emanating that. I didn’t say anything, but all my energy was going in that direction. By the time I got in, I was pissed. I came in and there was a group of people. So many people. I said [abruptly], ‘Hello. What’s your name?’ Then I auditioned. I had seen Hercules and how scantily clad the women were. I mean, she’s a psychopath, she’s a psychopath, she’s discussing something. She’s not going to go into a rage and start kicking the air. It didn’t seem appropriate. So I read the script, I read with the casting agent. They all kind of stared at me after I was done. It was very quiet. The way I read was very quiet and very low and very twisted. They said, ‘Can you…do anything?’ I had a long skirt on, and I said, ‘What do you mean?’ They said, ‘Can you kick or do anything like that?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’ I did a high kick and I threw a prop chakram and I left and said goodbye to everyone. I heard R.J. say ‘She is so scary! That is such a weirdo. She is so, so scary.’ Then Rob said, ‘Then she should get it!’ They loved that! It felt so great. That’s courageous [of them] because I could have been, literally, a big weirdo. And that would not be fun to work with.”"|
|― Hudson Leick (Callisto) on her casting process and introduction to the series
Source: (Whoosh! Interview – November 1997) and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed
Behind the Scenes
- Shooting Dates: February 5, 1996 through February 16th, 1996 (9-day shoot).
- Original US. Ratings (first airing): 5.1
- This episode was one of seventeen that fans selected to be featured on the Xena: Warrior Princess: 10th Anniversary Collection and is subsequently considered one of the greatest episodes in Xena: Warrior Princess history.
- Although it is revealed that Callisto was the one who fired the poisoned dart at Xena in the previous episode, 'The Greater Good', this one was actually filmed before it.
- The 2nd unit crew spent a record-making nine days working on the Xena/Callisto ladder battle.
- Robert Tapert mentioned at 1998 Burbank II Con that he couldn't take the credit for Callisto. R.J. Stewart created the character and he knew how they wanted her character to turn out.
- Robert Field revealed in The Official Guide to The Xenaverse book that the ladder sequence was comprised of 150 separate camera setups shot over four days. He said it was an incredibly ambitious and complicated scene and a nightmare to organize. 
- R.J. Stewart revealed in an interview with the Official Xena Magazine for Titan that creation of Callisto came about when the writers decided that Xena got off too easy and never dealt with the consequences of her specific actions. So they thought about what if she came face-to-face with somebody she had wronged and what if his character became evil and is trying to out-bad the old Xena. R.J said "By the time I got into work, I had a great story to pitch to people. It really went rather effortlessly from there – it was one of those pleasant experiences. The first draft worked. T.J. [Scott, the director] totally got it, and they cast the right gal. It just worked." 
- In the Starlog 2000 Magazine #271, R.J. Stewart stated that the episodes Callisto and Return of Callisto were originally conceived as a three-parter when the story was first pitched, but they decided to not commit to a three-parter until they saw how Callisto's character was turned out in a stand-alone. 
- The Casting of Joxer was mentioned by T.J. Scott in an interview with The Official XENA Magazine, as having been looking around at different people and they had even talked to Wallace Shawn and he revealed "I think they almost got into negotiations with him for the part. It came right down to the wire and Ted was free from his show, and all of a sudden, Ted was Joxer. [This] was the first episode for both [Callisto and Joxer], so I had a lot of fun working on the wardrobe for them and helping to create the characters through the wardrobe, especially Ted’s character.” 
- This episode marks the first appearances two major characters who will become essential to the future of Xena: Warrior Princess: Callisto and Joxer.
- This episode scored 5.1 million viewers on its original airing.
- This is the only episode where Joxer is standing on the side of villains.
- When the rope that Callisto is gripping in the final sequence snaps and she begins to fall, a bomb whistle sound effect is added for emphasis; in The Xena Scrolls, during the flashback to this same scene, a different bomb whistle sound is used instead.
- Chakram Count: 4
- 1) To take out three of Callisto's soldiers.
- 2) Callisto throws it into a watermelon.
- 3) Callisto throws it to try and kill the Oracle.
- 4) Xena throws it to cut the rope to free Gabrielle.
From the Original Script and Cut Material
Scene 4:Country Road #1
- There is an omitted scene, following Xena and Gabrielle's departure from the tavern, with a group of peasants who suffered without water following what Callisto did in Xena's name. They give them water. But when one of the men hears Xena's name, he spits out the water when he hears that name (he fears the water may be poisoned).
Scene 5: Deserted Village
- The original draft of the episode included Xena and Gabrielle entering a village and meeting Akteon, who apparently knew of Xena from her past, and who didn't know Xena had reformed. Both "Sins of the Past" and "The Path Not Taken" dealt with Xena confronting and taking advantage of her past, but the writers felt that by the time of this episode, most people concerned would probably have learned that she reformed.
Scene 13: Delphin Village
- In the original script, Joxer actually does shoot an arrow at Gabrielle with his crossbow in the Delphi alleyway, she, however, ducks it and defends herself.
Scene 31: Callisto's Stronghold
- An extended Gabrielle and Joxer scene was cut from the aired version. It occurs while the two are tied up in Callisto's camp, where the two comment on the hero in both of them.
Scene 34: Callisto's Stronghold
- The closing scene is longer and includes Melas and Joxer. Guards are in the process of putting foot chains on Theodorus and the other prisoners. Xena, Joxer, and Gabrielle look on. Melas thanks Gabrielle and tells her she was right about becoming the force that killed his son, and tells her Callisto and the other prisoners will get a fair trial. Gabrielle and Joxer say goodbye, and Gabrielle thanks Joxer for not cutting her throat and Joxer says it was nothing really. This scene leads to the original ending.
Links and References
|Season 1||Season 2 >>|
|#01||Sins of the Past||#09||Death in Chains||#17||The Royal Couple of Thieves|
|#02||Chariots of War||#10||Hooves and Harlots||#18||The Prodigal|
|#03||Dreamworker||#11||The Black Wolf||#19||Altared States|
|#04||Cradle of Hope||#12||Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts||#20||Ties That Bind|
|#05||The Path Not Taken||#13||Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards||#21||The Greater Good|
|#06||The Reckoning||#14||A Fistful of Dinars||#22||Callisto|
|#07||The Titans||#15||Warrior... Princess||#23||Death Mask|
|#08||Prometheus||#16||Mortal Beloved||#24||Is There a Doctor in the House?|